South Mains – Training Course & Members’ Practice

It was an enthusiastic bunch of eight trainees from all corners of our area and beyond, who arrived at South Mains for the first course of the year.  Kate welcomed the group and Stuart McDonald, instructor for the day, led them through the various stages of building a wall.  Daan had done a wonderful job of setting out pallets of stone at both sides of the wall and he and Kirsty continued to provide whatever was required throughout the day.

Stuart demonstrates while the trainees watch

By the time I arrived shortly before 10am, just in time for coffee, the foundation stones  covering 10 metres were already in place.  Four members under Gregor’s guidance were at a similar stage on another 4 metres.  Only a metre of the old wall lay between.

Gregor chats to Cracker, Daan and Kirsty’s young labrador and our latest recruit. No one has told him you shouldn’t stand on the wall.

Fueled by Kirsty and Daan’s excellent snacks and soup the wall grew quickly and by the end of the day we were well into the 2nd lift.  Along the way it was agreed to incorporate the remaining metre.

All hands on deck!

On to the 2nd lift. Think the members are a bit further behind.

Nearly at cope height. Trainees lend a hand.

On the Sunday, with time in hand it was decided to take down a remaining broken section at one end, so Daan would no longer need to use pallets to keep his sheep in the field.  Thus half the trainees went back to basics putting into practice their recently learned skills, while the rest worked with the three members present to bring the wall up to height.  By early pm we had reached cope height.  After a short explanation and demonstration by Stuart the trainees started to bring the copes to the wall.  It was certainly a case of many hands make light work.

A cope gang in action.

Many hands make light work.

Standing back we were all delighted and amazed to see how much had been achieved – 17.5 metres. 

Time for the final photo of our amazing achievement. Is Gregor telling Kirsty a joke?

Now it was time was that final cup of tea and cake.  Daan and Kirsty had looked after us well providing drinks and snacks as well as delicious soup at lunch time on both days.  Catering for 14 people is no mean feat, but they made it look so easy.

As we left Daan and Gavin were preparing to replace the gate so the sheep and their offspring could use the field.  Minutes before, one of the lambs had escaped from their temporary home, so our work was finished not a moment too soon.

Sales of books, hammers and pins were good reflecting the enthusiasm of the group and their plans for projects.  Hopefully we will see a few of them again at members’ events.

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